Sprint customers can breathe a sigh of relief today as the carrier and Clearwire, purveyor of the 4G WiMAX service, announced an agreement to continue Sprint’s usage of the WiMAX network, expand its LTE capacity, and possibly provide further equity investment in Clearwire. Sprint and Clearwire hope that the deal, worth $1.6 billion over the next four years, will solidify Sprint’s position in the 4G marketplace and help expand Clearwire’s LTE Advance-ready network.
As part of the deal, Sprint will pay Clearwire $926 million for unlimited access to the WiMAX network for 2012 and 2013. Clearwire also indicated that it had established pricing for Sprint’s access to WiMAX in the years to come, and that Sprint will have access to WiMAX through 2015. The price of that access has yet to be released.
Sprint will also pay $350 million over two years for access to Clearwire’s growing LTE network. According to the agreement, Sprint and Clearwire will work together to establish LTE “macro-cell sites” in the highest usage areas. The companies hope to have the LTE network fully operable by 2013, and Sprint plans to release laptop cards, phones and other devices utilizing the LTE network by that time. Long-term pricing for Sprint’s access to the LTE network beyond 2013 has also been finalized.